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Five arrested as thousands of pro-Palestine supporters march in central London to urge Gaza ceasefire

Five arrested as thousands of pro-Palestine supporters march in central London to urge Gaza ceasefire

Thousands of pro-Palestine supporters marched in central London calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza on Saturday.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) organised the protest, following the Hamas attacks on southern Israel on October 7 in which about 1,200 people were killed and more than 240 kidnapped before Israel retaliated with months of attacks on the Gaza Strip, killing and wounding thousands.

Demonstrators waved Palestine flags and carried banners which read "stop the war on Gaza" and "ceasefire now" as they marched from Hyde Park Corner to the US Embassy.

Protesters chanted "free free Palestine", "what do we want? Ceasefire. When do we want it? Now" and the slogan "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free".

The Met Police said after the march that five people had been arrested but that there were no “significant” disturbances. Two men were arrested for allegedly chanting offensive slogans, while a woman was detained for allegedly holding an offensive placard.

Another man was arrested for a public order offence after being seen carrying a shield and wearing a helmet, while another man was arrested for assault.

The force rejected claims that as a man who was arrested during an altercation was detained because of his anti-Hamas placard. Officers said the arrest was not related to the placard and that the man was later de-arrested.

Charlotte Church (centre) takes part in the pro-Palestine march (Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire)
Charlotte Church (centre) takes part in the pro-Palestine march (Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire)

Among those present at the march was singer Charlotte Church, who said she joined the protest to "show solidarity with the people of Palestine for all that they are suffering through".

“I am here today to call for an immediate ceasefire, to ask our Government and governments all over the world to send as strong message as we possibly can,” she said.

"But a strong, a peaceful a loving message, that's what every single march that I've been on for Palestine has been about.”

Female volunteers from Friends of Al-Aqsa (FOA) joined protesters on the march, which falls a day after International Women's Day, to "highlight the Palestinian genocide as a gendered issue".

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who now sits as an independent MP, spoke to pro-Palestine protesters and posed for pictures with them after the march.

He said the demonstration "is huge and there will be as many of them as it takes".

Speaking to the PA news agency, he said: "The demonstration today is enormous and we're here because we're appalled at the bombing that's still going on in Gaza.

"It's all very well for Joe Biden to say they're going to build a port to deliver aid, (it would) be far better if they stopped delivering arms to Israel and made sure there was a ceasefire.

"And this demonstration is huge and there will be as many of them as it takes.”

Labour MP Apsana Begum took to the stage after the march to highlight it came after International Women's Day, adding: "As we pay tribute this weekend to our recent history of women's struggles, as we look to a future of women's liberation, we must be clear that this means liberation for all women."

People at a counter-protest to the pro-Palestine marches, in Victoria, central London (Jordan Pettitt/PA) (PA Wire)
People at a counter-protest to the pro-Palestine marches, in Victoria, central London (Jordan Pettitt/PA) (PA Wire)

It was revealed the cost of policing Gaza-related protests in London has reached over £32 million and has required 35,464 officer shifts and more than 5,200 officer rest days to be cancelled, the Metropolitan Police said.

A counter-protest to the pro-Palestine marches was also held in Victoria, central London, on Saturday afternoon.

Organiser Itai Galmudy said they were "here to exercise our democratic right of making our voices heard" and that "Jews are not afraid and we've had enough of those anti-Israeli hate marches".